A New Century Christmas [CD]

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Product Overview

When we decided to do a Christmas recording we knew we had to do something out of the ordinary. Artistically it didnt make any sense to record a bunch of carols or swing versions of everyones favorite holiday hits. And besides, its just not in our nature to do any project in a standard sort of way. So as we discussed what we did and did not want the disc to be (in an SUV somewhere between El Paso and Dallas), we arrived at what we thought was a pretty original idea. We decided to contact all of our composer-friends and offer them the following scenario: Write an arrangement of a Christmas tune in your own compositional style, using the tune as much or as little as you desire, with the final goal being a re-composition of a familiar tune with your personal stamp on it. We more or less assigned specific tunes to avoid duplication, and left the composers on their own. Thankfully, all of the responses to the idea were positive, so we were encouraged and figured that if the composers were enthusiastic about the project, we were off to a good start. As our first reading session for the new music neared, we began to realize what a risk we took in commissioning an entire CD of original Christmas music. This realization was accompanied by a bit of fear as well! Those fears were quickly put to rest as we read through the compositions one-by-one, delighting by the quality of each. After one reading we knew we had achieved our goal of assembling a high-quality collection of original music that is eclectic, witty, serious, silly, and different all adjectives that have been used to describe us as an ensemble. We believe that the quality of the music surpasses anything currently available for saxophone quartet in this genre, and perhaps any other chamber ensemble as well. It does so with endless variety: There are traditional carol-like arrangements, modern versions of old standards, jazz- and pop-influenced styles, and contemporary original music. Every piece exceeded our expectations and we couldnt be more pleased with the efforts of every composer. The notes that follow are a collection of each composers thoughts about his own music. This disc represents so many different things, but most of all it is about relationships between friends. We in the quartet had a great time rehearsing and recording the music. We enjoyed the process of collaborating with all of the composers whose work is represented here. They are all good friends with whom we share personal and professional relationships extending way beyond this project. Every person involved in this recording gave their absolute best, and shared a part of their heart and soul. For that we are unendingly thankful, for that is truly what this season is about the love we share with family and friends and the connections that are possible every day of the year. This disc is a celebration of life and love, and we invite you to join in. Thanks New Century Saxophone Quartet would like to thank all the composers for their very creative approach to arranging the music on this recording. As always we want to thank Channel Classics and Jared Sacks for supporting and producing this project. Thanks also to our very dedicated manager Robert Besen who has always believed in us (at times, more than we did!). Most of all we want to thank our families. They have stood by us through thick and thin and so it is to them we dedicate this recording. Merry Christmas may the blessings of the season be yours throughout the year. BENJAMIN BOONE We Four Kings Ive always thought that the tune We Three Kings of Orient Are was too somber, stiff and serious. In my mind, the three Kings must have been pretty hip thrill seekers even to have undertaken such a mysterious journey. In honor of their international gusto (and to banish any sense of austerity from this melody) I put We Three Kings to a Latin montuno groove that master Puerto Rican bassist Jamie Rivera taught me. We Wish You a Merry Christmas The melody of this tune is treated as a theme for variations. First, the melody is set in a rather traditional hymn-like manner, then as a popular song ballad. Finally, I added a dash of Cajun spice. My Favorite Things OK, I admit it: Julie Andrews was my first screen-love. I watched The Sound of Music countless times, memorized every song and spoke every part (I can sing a great Climb Every Mountain). As I sung along with my LP, I imagined that Julie would ask me about *MY* favorite things. We would share a chocolate sundae and then cross the Alps arm in arm. Later, when I heard John Coltranes rendition, I mimicked his playing with equal fervor. Now I regularly perform this song at my jazz gigs. For this arrangement, I decided to insert some more of *MY* favorite things, such as a swing feel, jazz licks, and outside playing. Composer and saxophonist Benjamin Boone has written several works for saxophone, including Election Year (solo), Squeeze (concerto), Alley Dance (quartet), Vicissitudes (quartet concerto), and the Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano. He has won honors and awards for his compositions from organizations such as ASCAP, the National Association of Composers/USA, the Southeastern Composers League, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Tennessee Arts Commission. His compositions can be heard on several CDs, including those of the New Century Saxophone Quartet (Homegrown CCS 15498), the National Flute Choir, cellist Elizabeth Morrow, the Millennium Tribute to Adolph Sax CD series, Vol. IV, and the Poetzsch-Boone Duo. Boone currently teaches at the University of Tennessee LAWRENCE DILLON Oh, Holy Night There is a widespread tendency among carolers to sing the chorus of Oh, Holy Night (Fall on your knees!) with an unseemly sadistic glee. This arrangement of the carol opts for a more reverential, mysterious approach, which is far less likely to result in rug burns. The Last Noel The first noel the angels did say probably would have sounded quite a bit different if those angels had been virtuoso saxophone players. In this version of the overly familiar tune, the angels get to show off their slick technical expertise, with rapid canonic scales and grace notes. Composer Lawrence Dillon earned his doctorate at The Juilliard School, winning several scholarships and honors, including the Berlin Prize and the Gretchaninoff Prize in composition. Upon graduation, Dillon was appointed to the Juilliard faculty. He has received numerous awards for his music, including grants from the American Music Center, Meet the Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, the Jerome Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, ASCAP, and CRS. Dillons music is recorded by Contemporary Recording Society and published by American Composers Editions and Quadrivium Press. Dillon currently chairs the composition department at the North Carolina School of the Arts. He is the youngest of a large family of Christmas carolers, which taught him the value of bringing a well-oiled sense of humor to any enterprise. ARTHUR FRACKENPOHL In Dulci Jubilo Bachs chorale prelude states the maestoso theme in long notes in 3/2 meter with florid interludes featuring bravura scalewise and arpeggiated passages. The original melody is a German folk tune from the 14th century. The Christmas carol is known as Good Christian Men (Friends), Rejoice, sung in a lively 6/8 meter. Lo, How a Rose Eer Blooming Brahmss setting is one of Eleven Organ Chorale Preludes, Op. 127. The melody is disguised in a flowing 6/4 meter, for the most part in the upper voice. The source is from Alte Catholische Geisteiche Kirchengesang (Cologue, 1599), arranged by Michael Praetorius in 1609. Arthur Frackenpohl was born in 19.0024 in Irvington, New Jersey, and received degrees from the Eastman School of Music and McGill University. His composition teachers were Bernard Rogers (at the Eastman School), Darius Milhaud (at Tanglewood), and Nadia Boulanger (at Fontainebleau). He is Professor Emeritus of Music at the Crane School of Music, Potsdam College of the State University of New York, where he taught composition, theory, piano, and class piano from 19.0049-19.0085. Honors he has received include a First Prize in Composition at Fontainebleau in 19.0050, a Ford Foundation Grant in 19.0059-60, and several fellowships from the SUNY Chancellors Award for Excellence in Teaching in 19.0082. In addition to a keyboard harmony text, he has had published over 400 instrumental and choral compositions and arrangements. His music has been performed throughout the United States as well as in Canada, Europe, Australia, and Japan, and his arrangements have appeared on several Canadian Brass albums. GORDON GOODWIN Silent Night Late on Christmas Eve when the fire is about to burn itself out, it is a family tradition to pass out the songbooks and sing all of the favorite seasonal tunes. The old German song, Silent Night is always saved for last. This arrangement maintains the quiet, reverent feeling usually associated with this probably the best known of all carols. At first the melody is somewhat abstracted but by the time the third verse begins the tune rings out clearly in the quartet. Gordon (Dick) Goodwin holds a doctorate in composition from the University of Texas, where he taught theory and composition and ran the jazz program for nine years. In 19.0073 he moved to the University of South Carolina to head the Theory/Composition/Music History area and to conduct the University Orchestra. His works in virtually every idiom, from jingle to opera, jazz band to orchestra, have been performed across the U.S. and abroad. He is active as a performer (fifteen foreign and numerous domestic tours with the Dick Goodwin Jazz Quintet) and as a recording studio producer. Goodwin is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at The University of South Carolina. University of Texas, where he taught theory and composition and ran the jazz program for nine years. In 19.0073 he moved to the University of South Carolina to head the Theory/Composition/Music History area and to conduct the University Orchestra. His works in virtually every idiom, from jingle to opera, jazz band to orchestra, have been performed across the U.S. and abroad. He is active as a performer (fifteen foreign and numerous domestic tours with the Dick Goodwin Jazz Quintet) and as a recording studio producer. Goodwin is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at The University of South Carolina. GLENN HAYNES In the Bleak Mid-Winter This setting paints the blustery winter conditions that Rossetti prescribes in her traditional (European) description of the nativity. Alto and tenor work hard to sustain the perpetual motion of the ostinato (representing the wind). Dynamics changes help to make the wind dance. Above the ostinato the soprano sings the melody while below it the baritone establishes the modality. The image I wanted to capture was that of looking up at night at the snow coming down through the light of a street light. Lo, How a Rose Eer Blooming This lovely Renaissance church melody traditionally sets an Advent text from Isaiah 35 comparing Christs coming to an unfolding flower. Here, the tune is first accompanied by parallel tones from the harmonic series, with the tenor interjecting a contrasting driving motive at cadence points. The austere opening gives way to an undulating minor-mode setting, where melody is subtly shared among the players. The tenor interrupts the last note with the driving motive, which becomes a jammin ostinato. Over this, the alto and soprano present the second half of the melody in canon at the fifth, while the baritone suggests a fresh harmonic structure. Both of these arrangements I dedicate to my wife Ele. Glenn Haynes received a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 19.0079, a Master of Music degree in applied piano from Ball State University in Indiana in 19.0084, and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in church music and conducting from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky in 19.0094. He calls himself a musical generalist, enjoying choral and instrumental conducting, composing and arranging, and planning and implementing worship. He is a member of Choristers Guild, and life member of ACDA and Hymn Society. Hobbies also include woodworking, horticulture and skiing. BRAD HUBBARD The arrangement of What Child Is This is a play on rhythm. The harmony is used almost verbatim from a hymnal that I have in my collection of music. I wanted this arrangement to have an uneven feel to it, rather like a wheel that isnt round anymore. I also wanted there to be a spontaneous element to this arrangement and a sense that the listener wouldnt be sure what might happen next, and to that end I included a section in the middle of the arrangement that allows the alto to improvise. Born and raised in North Carolina, Brad Hubbard is considered one of the preeminent baritone saxophonists of his generation. As a member of New Century Saxophone Quartet since 19.0088, He has appeared on all three New Century recordings and has traveled extensively with the quartet in the United States and Europe. Hubbard has also appeared as a member of various orchestras, as a soloist throughout the Southeast, and in various jazz and commercial groups. He is also a founding member of and composer for the interdisciplinary group Invention!, which is dedicated to teaching children about the arts. His music is published by ALRY Publications. BEN JOHNSTON The Advent carol The First Noel is one of the most mysterious and evocative of all the Christmas carols. Recounting the story of the visit of the three wise men from the East to Bethlehem at the time of Jesuss birth, it ties the apparently rural and obscure event into a much wider cultural and religious context implying powerfully a transcendence of the ethnic and national importance of the manger scene. It seemed to me that the folksong-like tune could evoke even more strongly these timeless symbols if given a setting in counterpoint of Renaissance-like texture. Further, with the starting and ending tones taken as modal tonics, putting the tune into the medieval Phrygian mode, the emotional effect of the carol acquires an air of hushed reverence and awe. This is heightened by holding the unfamiliar tonic note in the bass during the repetition so as to make the modal ethos even more pervasive and intense. Finally, the use of saxophones evokes the timbral sounds of middle-Eastern and south Asian music, stressing again the wider context of events in Bethlehem. Ben Johnston is a composer working with extended just intonation. His teachers include Harry Partch, John Cage, Darius Milhaud, Burrill Phillips, and Robert Palmer. Most of his works are for traditional ensembles but demand the use of just-tuned microtones. His pieces have been widely performed all over the world. He has received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, ISCM, the Illinois Arts Council, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the University of Illinois. Probably his best-known works are his ten string quartets, the most widely heard of which is the fourth (Amazing Grace), frequently performed by the Kronos Quartet. During his entire teaching career he was at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but after retirement in the mid-19.0080s he taught at Northwestern University. He is Professor Emeritus of Music and has an Honorary Doctorate of Music from the University of Illinois. He now lives in Rocky Mount, North Carolina with his wife. DAVID OTT Oh Little Town of Bethlehem The haunting beauty of this Middle Eastern village is captured in this arrangement through subdued colors and rich counterpoint. The miraculous events unfold in variation form and are stated in hushed and sustained tones. Little Drummer Boy This presentation of the pastoral carol is set in its usual arch form. From its stammering opening to its resolute conclusion, the carol undergoes a variety of rhythmic changes and motivic developments, but remains faithful to its simple statement of the joy of simple gifts. David Ott is one of Americas most sought-after and critically acclaimed symphonic composers. After completing undergraduate work at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, he earned a Masters degree in piano performance at Indiana University and Doctorate in music theory and composition at the University of Kentucky. A noted teacher as well as composer, Ott has served on the faculties of Houghton College (NY), Pfeiffer College (NC), and most recently DePauw University (IN). In 19.0091 he was named Composer-in-Residence of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, a position he held until 19.0097. His recorded works on compact disc now number a dozen. His catalog includes four symphonies, fifteen concertos,


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